One of my favorite family traditions during the month of December is driving up and down the streets of my neighborhood and looking at all the fun Christmas lights. Just like snow, it is amazing how the lights can just set the scene for a wonderful holiday. But for most, to get those gorgeous fun lights up is quite a chore and when unprepared can be quite dangerous. Did you know in one year more than 163,000 people make emergency room visits due to ladder accidents alone.
In this week’s article we will discuss the proper techniques on how to safely use a ladder, as well as tips and guidelines to help avoid serious injury.
Weight capacity: Portable ladders are categorized three different ways; Industrial, Commercial, and Household. Industrial ladders are heavy duty ladders with a load capacity of no more than 250 lbs. Commercial Ladders have a medium duty load capacity of no more than 225 lbs, best suited for painting and similar tasks. Household ladders are light-duty with a load capacity of 200 lbs. The most common type of ladder in a home is the step ladder for your everyday needs. With the right ladder and proper use, working above ground level should be no problem. Make sure you have an appropriate ladder and use correct technique for placement and climbing.
The first step to using any ladder safely is to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions. They will contain guidelines that help you use ladders more safely and effectively and also advise you about the weight and height limits of the ladder. Make sure the weight your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user plus materials), and there should only be one person on the ladder at one time.
Tip: Before using a ladder, especially a ladder that has been stored in the garage for a while, inspect it for cracks or broken joints. Make sure the ladder has been well maintained, that the rungs are clean and all parts are intact — Never climb on a slippery or shaky ladder.
Types of ladders: Choose the proper ladder for the intended task. Metal ladders will conduct electricity. Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder in the vicinity of power lines or electrical equipment; such as when hanging lights. Do not let a ladder made from any material contact live electric wires. Do not place a ladder in front of a door that is not locked, blocked or guarded.
Proper Set up: Setting up the ladder correctly may help prevent falls. When planting the base of any ladder, place all feet on a firm,
level surface, not on rocks or boards. Spreaders, the devices that hold the front and back sections of a stepladder in an open position, should be completely open and locked before any weight is placed on the ladder. Use the 1:4 ratio to ensure a stable working platform. Place the base of the ladder 1 foot away of whatever it leans against for every 4 feet of height to the point where the ladder contacts at the top. It is good practice is to have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder. When using an extension ladder, don’t place the ladder at too extreme of an angle, Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle. When using an A-frame stepladder, make sure the brace is locked in place. Remember always use a ladder that is tall enough for the job at hand. A great number of ladder accidents are the result of using a ladder that is too short. When possible it is a good idea to secure tall ladders by lashing or fastening the ladder to prevent movement.
Proper Usage: Face the ladder when climbing up and down; keep your body centered between both side rails. While up on the ladder, don’t overextend your reach. Make sure you keep your weight evenly distributed, and don’t carry equipment while climbing a ladder. Invest in a tool belt or have a helper hand the equipment to you. Most ladder instructions state not to step on the top step, bucket shelf or attempt to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder. Do not climb higher than the second rung on stepladders or the third rung on straight or extension ladders. Keep both feet on the ladder – never put one foot on a rung and the other foot on a different surface. Always make sure people and equipment are off the ladder before moving or closing it. And finally… Never leave a raised ladder unattended, children love to climb.
Hopefully you are now prepared to go out and decorate your home in a safe manner, In the case of any accidents, HISI is here to help protect you with your homeowners or medical insurance needs. Please call at 301.590.0006, for advice on what best suits your needs.